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Libyan Embassy in Bulgaria switches to rebel side following expulsion order against diplomat
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) ' The Libyan Embassy to Bulgaria has gone over to the rebel side following the Bulgarian government's decision to expel a senior diplomat there.
Bulgaria announced Monday that it would move to expel Ibrahim Al-Furis, the embassy's chief of consular affairs, for activities inconsistent with his diplomatic status ' a phrase often used to refer to espionage.
But Al-Furis seemed to have other ideas, switching his allegiance from Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi to the rebels fighting to drive him from power. He and a group of diplomats took over the embassy, expelling two diplomats who remained loyal to Gadhafi's rule and hoisting the rebel banner over the embassy building in Sofia.
Footage from the private bTV channel showed rebel supporters raising their flag and smashing a bust of Gadhafi to pieces in the embassy's yard. Attempts to reach the embassy by phone weren't successful.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said that he had been informed about the "dramatic" events at the embassy but that the decision to expell the diplomat remained unchanged.
He added that Bulgarian authorities were suspending contact with the Embassy "until we have some clarity" as to who was in charge.
Bulgaria is supporting the UN Security Council-mandated mission in Libya and NATO operations against Moammar Gadhafi's regime. Last month, Bulgaria announced that the opposition's Transitional National Council was the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.